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Scary professors

November 4, 2008, 3:42 pm

Yesterday on Twitter, I posted a “tweet” venting asking why it is that a student who keeps making the same mistakes over and over again on assignments, and who receives feedback clearly telling him/her about this mistake and even telling her/him that this is the nth time they’ve made the mistake, won’t come to office hours to get some additional feedback or at least ask some clarifying questions about the mistake they are making. I don’t usually expect replies on Twitter, but I got this one:

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Two points in response to this.

  • Professors aren’t scary. Well, OK, some are — but most are normal human beings who really want to help students. And besides, if the student never comes to office hours, on what basis do they say professors are “scary”? How would they know?
  • Even if professors are scary, so what? You need the help; you take initiative to get it. This is the way life works, and if students are not learning this in college, exactly how are they getting ready for life? If, in the future, this hypothetical student gets a job and lands an important role in a difficult project and needs to get help from her/his supervisor, what happens if s/he feels like the supervisor is “scary”? Does s/he suck it up and ask for help or guidance (possibly to find out that the supervisor isn’t so scary after all)? Or does s/he keep running around not getting his/her project done, hiding behind the canard of “that supervisor sure is scary“?

To answer my responder’s question, yes, there is a tutor s/he can visit: THE PROFESSOR. And students’ tuition has pre-paid for a semester’s worth of on-demand, unlimited one-on-one tutoring with that prof. The rumor is that s/he even understands the material. Will the student take advantage? The invitation is out there; hopefully common sense will overcome juvenile fear.

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